Texas Sheet Cake

Back in the fall when my Chief Culinary Consultant and I were preparing to head down to Florida for a two-week trip to his parents’, I made one last stop the night before we left. I went to visit my grandma in the facility she was staying in while she received some physical therapy, which she was hoping would get her strong enough to get back home. She wasn’t sick at all, and aside from some mobility issues, at 91-years old, she was in pretty good shape. But, still. I knew I was going to be gone for two weeks, and I just had this nagging, uneasy feeling about leaving without going to see her for a little bit. I brought Einstein (whom she loved) and we had a nice little visit. Fast forward two weeks, the morning before we were set to head back home, and I received an early morning phone call from my sister that my grandma had passed away in her sleep the night before. I was upset, but not completely surprised. I had felt that I needed to see her before I left, and I’m so glad that I listened to that intuition. We managed to get on the road not long after receiving the phone call and drove straight through back to Pittsburgh, getting in around 3am. The next day I was exhausted, emotional, and hungry. As is the case most times there is a death, tons of family and friends dropped off food for my family. Among the fried chicken, roasted chicken, potatoes, deli platters, buns, and cookie trays was this gem. My great aunt had whipped up and sent over a Texas Sheet Cake. I ate some every day – before the viewing, the day of the viewing, the day of the funeral, and for at least a day after. It was amazingly delicious, and it soothed my soul. The day after the funeral, once the out of town family had gone, things were organized, and we could all take a breath, I made it my business to get this recipe from my aunt before I forgot. I’m so glad that it’s part of my recipe arsenal, and it will always remind me of celebrating my grandma’s life and all the love she gave.

I made a lighter version of a Texas Sheet Cake quite a number of years ago and it quickly became one of my favorite go-to desserts for three primary reasons: (1) It’s very quick to throw together and is essentially a one-pot recipe; (2) The combination of chocolate cake and a fudge-like icing is divine; and (3) You pour hot icing on hot cake, which basically melds them together. The results are phenomenal. The one thing I was missing back then was the addition of nuts to the frosting. I was in the midst of my food allergy saga and sadly had to omit them. My aunt uses walnuts in hers, but you could also use pecans (I like them both). The previous recipe is good if you are averse to using shortening, but I love the old-school nature of this one and have no such aversion. This cake comes out a bit more moist and fluffier than the other, so a big thumbs up.

Many recipes, foods, and even smells can conjure up strong memories, and this cake will forever do that for me. I hope you’ll create special memories with it as well!

Texas Sheet Cake (from Aunt Dorothy)

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 22 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


For the Cake:
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup water
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the Icing:
¼ cup vegetable shortening
6 tablespoons whole milk
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 11x15-inch jelly roll pan.

2. Place the shortening, water, and cocoa powder in a large pot (at least 4 quarts) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk well until thoroughly combined. Add the sour cream, eggs, and baking soda, and again whisk until thoroughly combined and batter is smooth.

3. Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

4. Meanwhile, make the icing. In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the shortening, milk, and cocoa powder to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, mixing until smooth. Stir in the chopped nuts.

5. When you remove the cake from the oven, immediately pour the hot icing over the cake, gently spreading it into an even layer over the cake. Let the icing set for about 30 minutes. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature.


95 Responses to “Texas Sheet Cake”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on March 6, 2012 at 12:15 am

    A good sheet cake is worth it’s weight in gold; and this looks pretty darn golden.


  2. Jen of My Tiny Oven on March 6, 2012 at 12:21 am

    This cake looks so good, I have been dying to try making one! I wish I had a big old slice right now! YUMMY!


  3. CouponClippingCook on March 6, 2012 at 1:42 am

    I want a piece of this so bad right now.


  4. Ally on March 6, 2012 at 5:24 am

    Lovely blog post… nothing like a recipe that reminds you of a favorite person. They always take that much more yummy, don’t they?
    This looks so tasty, thanks for sharing the recipe!


  5. Kiri W. on March 6, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Oooh, I have never had Texas sheet cake, but from what I’ve seen about it, I’d love it/ And a lighter version sounds like a fantastic thing :)


  6. Katie on March 6, 2012 at 7:03 am

    What a touching and heartfelt post :) I’m a subscribed reader but I don’t leave enough comments, but I felt compelled to comment today! I really enjoy your blog and I think your recipes are fantastic. And you’re right – food and food smells can evoke all sorts of good and bittersweet memories. Red velvet cake and sauerkraut balls are the things that remind me of my grandmother!


  7. Jenn on March 6, 2012 at 7:07 am

    texas sheet cake conjures up beautiful and wonderful memories of my Grandma too! She was the world’s BEST COOK and I miss her yummy treats and down home finger lickin’ good southern cooking.

    I’m gonna have to try this. Something tells me my younger son would adore this, but I’d have to make it without nuts…. he won’t eat nuts.


  8. Blog is the New Black on March 6, 2012 at 7:35 am

    NEED THIS IN MY LIFE. it looks rich and gooey.


  9. Katrina on March 6, 2012 at 7:38 am

    I’ve been meaning to try this for a while. It looks so yummy!


  10. Erin @ Brownie Bites on March 6, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Sheet cake is such a staple. It’s easy, fast, and utterly delicious. Always a classic. :)


  11. abigail on March 6, 2012 at 8:10 am

    you should try making a white texas sheet cake also. it is so good.


  12. Charlie on March 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

    I am so sorry that you lost your Grandma!

    I lost my Grandma while still a child, but the impact she had on my life, and the love she gave to me, remains.

    Praying for you.



  13. Tina on March 6, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Have you ever had White Texas Sheet Cake? I have a recipe I’d be happy to share if you are interested. I grew up on Texas Sheet Cake (the traditional, chocolate version) and was just introduced to White Texas Sheet Cake recently – so delicious!


    • Charlie on March 6th, 2012 at 9:28 am

      I would love to try a white sheet cake, if you wouldn’t mind sharing with me.



    • Michelle on March 6th, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Ooh, I have not heard of a white Texas Sheet Cake! I’d love to try the recipe if you feel like passing it along!


    • Lisa on March 6th, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      Please do!


    • Grace on February 24th, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      would love to have your recipe and hope you can send it to my email.
      I am from British Columbia Canada and love to try new recipes.

      Hope you have a great day\\


  14. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on March 6, 2012 at 9:11 am

    I have never had Txas Sheet Cake, but this looks amazing and I know I would LOVE it!!


  15. Sandra on March 6, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I am sorry for your loss and glad you followed your intuition. Of all the desserts I have eaten, I have never had this one. I look forward to trying it.


  16. Amber, RD on March 6, 2012 at 9:26 am

    The first picture on this post is making me drool. I love things like chocolate sheet cake that are oldies but goodies! I posted on peanut butter cookies yesterday. I like to experiment with fun cookie recipes, but when I made these my husband said he was so glad to have a classic favorite again!
    So glad you got to have that time with your grandma before she passed away. Oddly, I had almost the exact same experience when I lost my grandma. Cinnamon rolls are the food that remind me of her. She made a big batch every week to take to the Senior Center! :)


  17. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on March 6, 2012 at 9:35 am

    A very touching post. Thanks for sharing your story. This cake looks utterly delicious and a warm cake with warm frosting is one of the best combos. Can’t wait to try it!


  18. Niki Blake on March 6, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I just had to comment (finally) and tell you how much I LOVE your blog! I think I PIN almost every recipe every day and then I usually have no less than 20 people re-pinning! YOur recipes are so good and I plan to use today to bake about 3 of them! Anyway, I have never commented but knew I wanted to tell you that your blog rocks….thank you for sharing so many amazing recipes!


    • Michelle on March 6th, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Aw, thank you for the sweet comment! So happy to hear you’re enjoying the site!


  19. The Chocolate Priestess on March 6, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I remember someone always made this for church lunches or dinners we had every couple of months. Great for feeding a large group of folks.


  20. Susan Lankford on March 6, 2012 at 9:50 am

    The term ..vegetable shortening…does this mean a solid shortening like Crisco?


    • Tonia Berry on March 6th, 2012 at 11:50 am

      I was wondering the same thing.


  21. Natalie@DeconstructingTheHome on March 6, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I’ve been making this for years and it is my favorite! I do add in one teaspoon of cinnamon and it gives it that certain something. So good!


  22. linda on March 6, 2012 at 10:07 am

    it sounds as if you were a wonderful granddaughter. you should take comfort in the grand memories you have of your beloved grandmother. my sympathies to you & your family.


  23. linda on March 6, 2012 at 10:08 am

    oh…& btw: heirloom recipes are the best…i will def try to bake this one!


  24. Margie Orr on March 6, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Texas Sheet Cake is a favorite of mine, too.
    When my husband passed away five years ago, a good friend made the cake and brought it over. It’s overwhelming how friends, nighbors, and family provide such good food at the time of a death. Nothing makes us feel loved and comforted more than the food.
    I’m sorry about your Grandma, but know you’re grateful that you get to spend some time with her. She lived a long life, and I expect that you were a joyful part of that life.


  25. Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids on March 6, 2012 at 10:30 am

    What a beautiful story about your grandma. I love how food and memories go hand-in-hand. I cannot wait to try this sheet cake. Being a Texas girl, it makes me want to try it even more. :)


  26. Lori on March 6, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I can really relate to your story. My 96 year-young grandma passed away suddenly in November. My son was the light of her life, he called her Bebe. Last week I made banana bread and saved some for my son who I knew would be home from college over the weekend. When I put it on his breakfast plate, I noticed he was just staring at it. When I asked why, he said, “Bebe always made me banana bread.” we both teared up a little over the good memory. Food is a powerful trigger!


  27. Villy @ For the love of Feeding on March 6, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Lovely story and a delicious looking cake :)


  28. Daisy@Nevertoosweet on March 6, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I’m sorry for your loss but i’m glad you got to see your grandma before you went on the road :) I’ve never heard of a Texas Sheet Cake before ~ I really enjoy reading your blog to get to know more American desserts :)

    Thank you for sharing the story of your grandma and this lovely sheet cake recipe~


  29. Mireia on March 6, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Yum!! Thanks for sharing :)


  30. Christy from Life of a Modern Housewife on March 6, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I’m so glad you were able to see your grandma before she passed; thanks for sharing your story. This cake is my all time good memory chocolate cake recipe. My grandmother used to make it all the time and passed it on to my mom, and this was her go to cake recipe. I loved making it with her when I was little!

    Thanks for sharing your story and the recipe :)


  31. Choc Chip Uru on March 6, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    What a beautiful story – combined with this delicious recipe, it makes for a wonderful post :)

    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: Lemon Meringue Tart


  32. Linda Huntington on March 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    A few comments. Such a sweet story about the bond between a grandmother and granddaughter. My mother (who passed many years ago) made this and passed the recipe down. My kids all LOVE to make this and it’s their favorite recipe. Of course with growing kids a few years ago – we developed the Peanut Butter iced Texas Sheet cake for choc/ peanut butter lovers in my family.

    Also, I bought a Pampered Chef stone that is shaped just like the jelly pan but ends up making a better cake part for me. Funny how my life has revolved around this particular cake recipe. Thank you, Michele, for sharing this recipe and the story. Love the blog. Love your facebook – you make me hungry every day!


  33. Emily on March 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    You’ve got to try a white Texas sheet cake-my mom makes a delicious one and I have to say they’re even better than chocolate! (got to love the almond extract)


    • Emily on March 6th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Lol should have read the other comments first! Glad to know others are on top of things. 😉


  34. Laura Drury on March 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks for a beautiful story. I too have fond memories of my mom who made this cake often during her 63 years on earth. It is because of her that I share a love of cooking. Good reminder to all of us that take food to grieving friends, that our efforts don’t go unnoticed! Love your blog!

    Laura D


  35. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on March 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I love sheet cake! My mom has been making it for as long as I remember, and it was one of the few things my Grandma had around. Love that you can fondly remember your Grandma with this cake!


  36. Marcia on March 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    So very sorry to read about the loss of your grandmother. Your post reminded me that my dear-departed grandmother told me always to trust my intuition. You listened to yours and had that lovely last visit. So nice.
    As for Texas Sheet Cake, it is a divine recipe and one that I have used so many times. I like it with pecans in the frosting. YUM. So happy your aunt brought you that delicious comfort, as you do to us with so many of your wonderful recipes.


  37. Julia on March 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Pecans, walnuts, whatever you want to put on here, I’d eat it! The frosting makes it looks so gooey and scrumptious!

    I’m sorry about your grandma… I sometimes get little nagging feelings like that about my grandparents. I had one last year when my daughter was born… I had this feeling that once my grandpa got to meet her, he’d pass. And 3 weeks later he did.


  38. Living The Sweet Life on March 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about you loosing your grandma, I’m sure you have countless happy memories to keep her spirit alive <3
    A simple and delicious cake is normally pretty hard to come by, I'm glad you posted this recipe – – it will be flagged for my next cake that needs to be baked :)


  39. Sharlene Simon on March 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    We made something similar in West Virginia when I was growing up. We called it Coca-Cola sheet cake because that’s the liquid used with the cocoa and butter and powered sugar. Wow! It’s a dream come true in your mouth!!!!


  40. Fran at fransfavs.com on March 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    My post for White Texas Sheet Cake is one of the most popular on my blog. It is incredibly moist and flavorful. Enjoy….


    • Michelle on March 6th, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing, I am definitely going to try this!


  41. CulinarilyCourtney on March 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I love myself an over the top dessert, but there is something about a piece of chocolate sheet cake adorned with a scoop of vanilla ice cream that is just perfect–and oh so appetizing!


  42. Cassie on March 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Texas sheet cake was always a favorite growing up. This takes me way back!


  43. Lilly on March 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    I totally understand why you would make this often. It looks great! Especially with the ice cream on top.


  44. Krissy's Creations on March 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    What a great way to celebrate and remember your Grandma. I would love to try a slice :)


  45. Noble Pig - Cathy on March 6, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Love the hot sauce over the cake idea…but your story was lovely. I had the same experience at my grandma’s passing.


  46. Christine M on March 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    I read this post in the car as we were driving to the store and was trying so hard not to cry. My grandma died 3 years ago this April and I knew I should of went “home” earlier but my Mom told me no to stay where I was and leave when I had originally planned to. When she passed I remember all the food people kept bringing by ESPECIALLY the cakes! There was a lemon pound cake that kept showing up and we ate and ate and ate. My sisters and Mom joke all the time that everytime they saw me or my younger sister we had a slice of cake in our hand. My hubby and I went out to dinner last Friday and there on the dessert bar was a lemon pound cake. It made me think of my grandma and your post brought back the sweet sweet memories of my grandma’s home-going (and all the weight I gained throughout my mourning eating lol!). Thanks for sharing this recipe your blog is just amazing I think I pin just about every dessert you post =)


  47. Cat on March 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. My comfort food is biscuits DRENCHED in gravy.


  48. Stephanie on March 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    That was a beautiful post. I love that the cake will be a reminder of a celebration of life rather than of a loss. Thanks for sharing the recipe as well as this bit of your life!


  49. Kaitlyn on March 6, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    The best foods are sometimes the simplest that just bring back so many memories! Thanks for sharing Michelle and have a great time in Florida :)


  50. Fran at fransfavs.com on March 6, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    My post for White Texas Sheet Cake is one of the most popular on my blog. It is incredibly moist and flavorful. Enjoy…


Comment Pages 1 2

Leave a Comment

(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)